Asociatia Internationala Un Pas Spre Viitor - The Association follows social and professional integration of youth, which have turned 18 years old, which left/will leave the orphanages, taking them in the Social Integration Center – which have been founded in 2006, at Brasov.The Association aims to contribute to the harmonious, educative and social development of a certain category of young people, by implementing some well-defined programs. Also, their social integration is wanted, as well as the monitoring for achieveing the intended purpose.

UPSV International Association

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“A Step to the Future” is an organisation that helps disadvantaged children from orphanages and impoverished families develop the skills and behaviours they need to become effective and constructive members of society.
The political and economical climate in Romania is still recovering from the deprivation caused by former communist dictator Nicolae Ceausescu, who ruined the nation's economy with fanatical idealisms including outlawing abortion at a time when Romania faced severe shortages of food and heating oil.
Having being denied access to contraception and struggling to feed their families, many Romanians could see no choice but to abandon their newborn children.
Although Nicolae Ceausescu’s dictatorship came to an end just over 20 years ago the country is still struggling to readjust both economically and culturally.
UPSV primarily assists children that are about to leave or have already left the orphanages and children from impoverished families. Both have their own challenges and obstacles that they have to learn to deal with in order to become effective and constructive members of society and most importantly develop a sense of belonging, self worth and wellbeing.

After a lifetime of institutionalisation these children must leave the orphanages at the age of 18, sadly most have no place to go. They are challenged with dealing with the ways of the outside world and lack the ability to make their own judgement on normal daily situations that arise, as they have had little social interaction. Consequently they struggle with developing behaviours and characteristics that we take for granted such as individuality and responsibility. They have been discouraged to show initiative and to use their own judgement within the institutions that they grew up in.

Children from impoverished families:
Sadly, the practice of abandoning children continues. Many Romanians cannot afford birth control and cannot afford to care for their children therefore leaving a child at an orphanage is still a likely solution.
UPSV recognises the importance of providing emotional and practical support to these families to ensure that they learn to get through the tough times together thus breaking the cycle of abandonment and ensuring family preservation.

What we do:
UPSV are at present the only social integration centre in the whole of Brasov where young people from disadvantage backgrounds can go for the support they need. There are only a handful of organisations in the whole of Romania where these vulnerable and fragile children can get the emotional and practical support they need to become independent, valued members of the community and thereon develop a sense of wellbeing.

UPSV is under no illusion that the challenges ahead are straightforward, nor that these issues can be tackled over night, we are however committed to the long journey ahead and are prepared for the obstacles we face because we understand that things need to change.
These children don’t need miracles; they just need the right guidance and support to turn their own lives around. Florin Catanescu President and Founder of UPSV is living proof. Florin was an orphan since birth and grew up in orphanages not knowing the love of parents and for all his traumatic experiences he has become an exemplarily member of society and is determined to help others and share love. You can read more about Florin and his remarkable journey to improve social protection within Romania on the Team tab. Florin is an inspiration to all and uses his own experiences and empathy to connect to these young people in need.

Current achievements:
To date UPSV has made a real impact on social services and protection at government level within Romania. Florin has campaigned tirelessly to change the social system at the highest level and has successfully, in conjunction with the Social Services Development Centre in Brasov County developed law 116/2002 on combating and social exclusion and Article 51 of Law 272/2004.
UPSV has also gained accreditation of functioning regarding “Advising and integrating underprivileged young people into the society, document issued by the Ministry of Labour, Family and social protection.
Florin has also gain professional qualifications in "Counselling and Integration of Disadvantaged Young People in Society". This certificate enables UPSV to conduct counselling for young people, and was issued by the Ministry of Labour, Family and Social Protection.
The Social Integration Centre currently has 7 rooms and until present has helped over 100 youths find jobs and while providing accommodation for one year after they enter adulthood. Here they learn independent living skills such as cooking and managing their finances. They receive legal advice, counseling, assistance in finding a job such as CV writing and how to deliver a good interview.
Florin and his team have also developed a number of interim initiatives such as “The Independent Life Project” and “Leaders of Tomorrow” project and an Art program.

The new Social Integration Center:
In 2010 UPSV began talks with the local government in Brasov and have now developed a working partnership to address the social problems. UPSV were given a building to renovate into a new Social Integration Center. The building has so much potential and there are plans to develop it into an up to date facility that is so desperately needed within Brasov. You can learn more about this project under the ‘Projects’ tab.




Activities and projects

A Step to the Future - Un Pas Stree Viitor Asociatia International - is a charitable organization, based in Brasov, Romania. The organization is legally represented by Florin Catanescu. Our activities include seeking the social and professional integration of young people aged 16 to 26 years. These young people are either about to leave or have left shelters in the city and county of Brasov. We also seek the social and professional integration of young people from disadvantaged families from Brasov city and county.
Florin Catanescu is a young man who grew up in an orphanage from birth. Throughout his early life, Florin lived in several social welfare institutes. He grew up not knowing the love of parents, and he grew up to become a handsome and self educated young man. During his life in the orphanage, he had no childhood as such, and suffered terrible maltreatment, being beaten by the larger ones, and did not receive the education he needed. At the age of 22 years he left the orphanage and started to integrate into society. He worked at several television stations in Constanta and Brasov and also a television at the shelter, while staying in several rented places. Florin's great desire was to have his own orphanage, but facing the social integration of his own, he decided to set up a system of social protection.
In 2003, while working as a cameraman on a reality TV show, Florin decided to set up his own charity. He walked to various state institutions in Brasov, making enquiries about the possibility of setting up successful associates and so ‘A Step to the Future Association’ was created.
The association’s main objective is the proposal of the social and professional integration of young people aged 18, who have either left or are about to leave the orphanages and to assist these young people to become integrated into society.
Another priority of "A Step to the Future” is the moral and material aid to children and young people who suffer from shortcomings such as food, home, office and school supplies, clothing, etc..
In 2005 we created our first custom brochure Prahova and Brasov. This brochure provided relevant and updated information on supportive legislation, monitoring, as well as providing information on social and professional integration. This brochure was a great success, as it became an effective guide for young people who were taking their first steps towards society. This booklet was conducted under the project "Youth for Youth, ALWAYS TOGETHER", and was financed by the U.S. Embassy - Bucharest.
In 2005 Florin founded the first Social Information Centre in Brasov. A month later, he was told the centre was to shut down at the unit in which they conducted business. Florin did not want the centre to be removed from the area and he arranged to have a meeting with Agache Dorel, a man with a big heart and Director of the "Mircea Cristea" Technical College. Following discussions, the centre stayed open, and since then, Agache Dorel has been integral in the development of further projects.
In 2006, A Step to the Future Association in partnership with the "Mircea Cristea" Technical College and Brasov County School Inspectorate Centre created a shelter, consisting of 7 rooms, and the first 14 young people who had left institutional systems were enrolled. They were assisted to continue their educational studies, and also night school, and some of them were employed at different companies.
After a year of activity, we were able to renovate several rooms with a group of volunteers from "Hearts Across Romania" - a foundation based in Dallas, USA. Together with friends from Dallas, we were able to develop this center for social integration and in partnership, we developed a program for children from poor families, called "Sponsor a Child" which the “Hearts Across Romania” has on their website.
In order to meet with legal national law requirements, Florin worked to achieve accreditation to qualify in "Counselling and Integration of Disadvantaged Young People in Society". This certificate enables UPSV to conduct counselling for young people, and was issued by the Ministry of Labour, Family and Social Protection.
From 2006 until now over 100 young people have benefited from the association, and have been successfully integrated socially and professionally.
“The Independent Life Project”.
Florin then went on to develop a project called “The Independent Life Project”. This was carried out between June 2009 and June 2010, and was designed specifically for the purpose of informing and counselling children and young people for integration into society after leaving orphanages. The project took place in orphanages in Brasov, and was funded by the U.S. Embassy in Bucharest. In November 2009 the General Directorate for Child Protection, Brasov organized a press conference and released its first guide on independent living.
“Leaders of Tomorrow Project”.
In October 2011, another project was launched called "Leaders of Tomorrow". The project was developed in partnership with the Mircea Cristea Technical College in Brasov, and was developed specifically for volunteer groups. Its aim was to encourage the involvement of young people in voluntary extra-curricular activities with social and environmental issues. The Leaders of Tomorrow project was funded by the U.S. Embassy in Bucharest. An important activity within "Leaders of Tomorrow" was visiting the homes of students in the region of Sacele, Brasov county. This was where Florin developed an Art Program and each child who participated in the Art Program received a personalized gift.
From 2010, A Step Towards the Future Organization began talks with local government in Brasov, and developed a working partnership. We obtained a building project development at the Social Services Centre called.
The establishment of , the Centre for Social Services was inspired by an international social protection system, and provides support for youths, as they are integrated into society through the services provided. Through this project, everyone can learn independent living skills and can receive legal advice, counselling and assistance in finding a job.
Social Services Development Centre in Brasov County is part of the national project of social integration of young people with fewer opportunities for integration, developing law 116/2002 on combating and social exclusion and Article 51 of Law 272/2004. Setting up a center with higher capacity can implement the following objectives:
- Social recovery institutionalized system of youth exit;
- Subscribing to a form of education;
- Development of independent life skills training;
- Their social inclusion;
- Temporary shelter.
Sustainability of the project will be the development of aid programs and also the integration of young people who have fewer opportunities for social inclusion, through work and school programs established according to each person’s needs and problems. Each young person who receives this service has to contribute a share, in order that he can pay towards the utilities.
Currently our Social Integration Centre has a total of 21 young people aged 18 years and over.